Moya Cannon

Donegal Tarantella

ISBN: 978 1 784107 87 1
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Published: September 2019
216 x 135 x 7 mm
80 pages
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Also available in: eBook (Kindle), eBook (EPUB)

At Three Castles Head We Catch our Breath

We come from a hidden ocean and go to an unknown ocean
Antonio Machado

A flat, faulted slab of cliff soars
and shimmers far above us
then slants far below,
into a young ocean
we call the Atlantic.

Bedded sandstones
have been tilted on edge here –
dust of disappeared mountains,
compressed beneath the weight
of disappeared oceans.

What cosmic accident engendered
this relentless complexity of being –
the hot metal core, the mantle heavily swirling
under new hills, thin-floored oceans, fragile cities,

and under the flowering bank of earth behind us,
which responds again to the nearing of a star,
each unfolding primrose an inch of yellow velvet,
each heavy violet teetering on its slim stem,

and us, latecomers,
balanced between cliff and flowers,
trying to comprehend both,
trying to catch our breath.

“A revelation in its range and depth. These poems are written out of Moya Cannon’s enduring preoccupations: with history – especially the history of exile and displacement – with music, language, loss. True to the shifts of real experience, sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes ironic, she deploys an understated technique, in a voice that is deliberate, exact and witty. Here are poems, landscapes alive with birds, people and stories, that show us our world, our past and culture through the gift of just, joyful words; they help us to reflect and to live.”

Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin


“Reading these poems is often akin to travelling through time – or being made aware of layers of time before our own”

Robyn Bolam, The High Window


“The unshowiness of her work, the apparent careful weighing of words, is one of its appealing characteristics: for Cannon this seems not just a question of style but a necessary way in which to be true to her own sense of wonder in the world.”

Gerard Smyth, Dublin Review of Books


“Moya Cannon has a talent for the long shot; whole vistas open up in a handful of words… a master at evoking [time’s] mysterious slippery quality… [her] unerring pared back poems express [a] deep knowledge and affection again and again.”

Martina Evans, The Irish Times